Read Part One: Best Turkey Travel Guide
History of Turkey
Historically known as Asia Minor or Anatolia, this vast region reflects a remarkable and fascinating history with settled habitation dating back to the eighth millennium BC. Anatolia has seen virtually every major western civilisation come and go including the Assyrians, Hittities, Phrygians, Urartian, Greeks and Romans. Treasured artefacts, including what is believed to be the first landscape picture ever painted were left behind and are displayed at Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Many of the museums' artefacts are the only clues we have to the earliest civilisations.
Some of the finest sites emerged from the Hellenistic period such as the remains of ancient Troy and the ruined settlements of Lycia. The most impressive of them all is ancient Ephesus. It is believed that the Virgin Mary spent her last days in a small house on the edge of Ephesus whilst St John the Evangelist came to look after her. Now a place of Pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, the house has received the official sanction of the Vatican.
In 560 BC the King of Persia, Cyrus, conquered everybody and everything and soon subjected the Aegean cities to his rule. However, 200 years later they were defeated by Alexander the Great. He led the Macedonians eastward across Anatolia as far as India in pursuit of gaining the domination of Asia. Sure enough, he rapidly conquered the entire Middle East, from Greece to India.
Following its conquest by Rome in the 2nd century BC, Asia Minor enjoyed centuries of peace. During the Middle Ages as part of the Byzantine Empire it became a centre of Christianity.
The Great Seljuk Empire, based in Persia, was the first real Turkish state in Anatolia. This empire had a distinctive culture with beautiful architecture and design. The Seljuks Empire quickly declined with Anatolia fragmented into a number of small emirates. The Turks gradually moved in on these states one by one which eventually grew to be the largest empire in recent history, the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans ruled for more than six centuries until 1922. The following year, Asia Minor became the larger part of the Turkish Republic led by Ataturk.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the main drive behind the development of modern Turkey. The former army officer became Turkey's first President and steered the country from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk introduced dramatic reforms that touched upon every aspect of Turkish life. There were many significant changes including replacing the Arabic script with Latin characters. Primary education was made compulsory and religious law was abolished. Women were granted equal rights in matters of custody and inheritance and by 1934 women's rights had extended to Universal Suffrage.
Ataturk was and still is a national hero- a massive presence in the long history of Turkey. In every town and village you will find reminders of the leader everywhere you turn. As time goes by Ataturk becomes even more of a hero as the country's people recognize his extraordinary influence in making Turkey what it is today.
Turkish Food & Drink
Turkish food is amongst the best in the world. With enough climatic zones to grow most ingredients locally, there is a vast array of produce to excite and entice the palate.
Besides its famous kebab dishes, there are many other traditional Turkish foods to choose from. Meze (appetisers) for which Turkey is justly famous, are a range of hundreds of small dishes from simple combinations such as cheese with melon to elaborately stuffed vegetables. These are served in all Turkish restaurants and are traditionally accompanied with Raki, a clear anise- flavoured spirit claimed to be Turkey's national alcoholic drink.
Turkey's most popular beers are the home produced Efes Pilsen and Tuborg, and whilst the wine industry has yet to realise it's full potential, Kavaklidere and Doluca, the best known brands, produce a selection of both red and white wines.
Shopping in Turkey offers the most unusual and diverse range of gifts tempting even the non-shoppers amongst us.
Traditional handicrafts such as carpets, kilims, copper goods, painted ceramics and jewelers are popular buys, along with a good selection of leather goods, sandals and beachwear which can be found in most of the larger resorts.
In tourist and coastal areas, opening hours are quite flexible and during the summer many shops stay open until late in the evening, seven days a week, leaving tourists to browse at their leisure and escape the heat of the day.
In souvenir shops and stalls, it's always worth trying a spot of haggling. For food shopping, local minimarkets provide basic essentials, whilst the supermarkets found near the larger resorts are similar to those we are used to at home. Most resorts have a weekly market selling local produce, crafts and textiles and are well worth a visit.
Things to do in Turkey
Turkey offers a wide variety of activities for couples and families alike.
Water sports including windsurfing, parasailing, jet skiing and canoeing are popular on designated beaches in or near many of the larger resorts. Scuba diving is also widely available, and the calm, clear waters are ideal for beginners and novice divers. Walking and trekking are becoming increasingly popular and they offer one of the best ways to explore the countryside.
Turkey Time Difference
Turkey is two hours ahead of the UK. It is a good idea to adjust your watch as soon as you arrive, as any airline timetables are expressed in local time.
When To Go
The main season for visitors to Turkey's western Aegean and Mediterranean coastal resorts is between May to October, when the weather is settled and the days are long and sunny.
Temperatures range from the mid 20°Cs early and late season, to the mid 30°Cs during the peak season of July and August which is also the most popular time to visit when all the activities are in full swing. The sea temperatures are warm and ideal for swimming throughout the summer, and it is not unusual to be able to swim in the sea even in November.
In the coastal resorts we have a selection of properties suitable for occupation in late autumn, winter and early spring where you can discover the changing seasons. Please contact us for further information. There may be an additional charge for heating. The Turkish resorts do quieten down in winter and many facilities available during the summer months may not be available during winter.
Read Part One: Best Turkey Travel Guide